Some songwriters have a seemingly innate ability to consistently write great songs. Kate Campbell's new CD Monumentsproves she is among this elite club. Her sixth release since 1995, Monuments displays the maturity and high level of quality that separates great songwriters from those who are merely talented. Monuments includes ten original songs, five of which are collaborations between Campbell and her producer, Walt Aldridge.
Trying to describe Campbell's music is a little like dancing about architecture; my words can only give you the vaguest inkling as to the power of these compositions. The opening song "Yellow Guitar" conjures up the image of Robert Johnson hitchhiking, seen from his ride's point of view. The final selection, "Walk Among the Stones," mixes images of a young Elvis Presley with those of casket factories and the rapidly changing Southern landscape. Trust me, the songs are much more interesting and complex than my feeble descriptions.
A fine collection of Muscle Shoals-based musicians join Campbell on Monuments, including Mac McAnally, Marty Raybon, and Cindy Walker on harmony vocals, Spooner Oldham on Hammond B-3 organ, David Hood on bass, Mark Narmore piano, Pat Buchanan on electric guitar, Larry Franklin on fiddle, Eddie Bayers and Josh Haselton on drums, Mike Johnson on dobro, Jeff Taylor on accordion, Jonathon Yudkin on cello, and Walt Aldridge covering acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, percussion, and background vocals. As you might guess by the large musicians roster, the arrangements on Monuments are lush and full figured. But even the most ambitious of these settings never obscures the subtle emotional shadings and impact of the songs.
Bill Monroe used to use, or perhaps overuse, the word "powerful" to describe anything he felt had value. By Bill's standards Monuments certainly deserves to be called powerful as well as beautiful, insightful, arresting, seductive, complex, and transfixing. If music with depth makes you stop in your tracks, Monuments will turn you into a gargoyle.